Franciscan Way


Making a Big Impression

Alumni share stories of the campus visitors who made a lasting impression.

As a member of the Baron basketball team from 1964 to 1968, I was privileged to meet and listen to great speakers for our post-season banquets. The one speaker I still remember is Dr. Jack Ramsey, then the head coach of St. Joseph’s College. Dr. Jack later went on to the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers, where he coached the great Bill Walton and led them to a championship. What struck me most was his very intelligent approach to the game of basketball. His explanation of his coaching philosophy impressed me as a young freshman trying to survive his first year in college basketball. Every time I saw him on TV coaching St. Joe’s, the Trailblazers, or as a color analyst for games, I always remembered that special night in Steubenville listening to his speech. It was an honor for me to share the evening with Coach Ramsey and listen to his wisdom. All these years later, he still does NBA color commentary on the radio. He must be in his late 70s or early 80s. He was truly remarkable and a real icon in the basketball world.
Bob Straface ’68
History

While these speakers did not rank on any A list, a group of students from Kent State University spoke to an assembly in Christ the King Chapel. They visited shortly after four students were killed on the Kent State campus in the spring of 1970—my freshman year at Steubie U. That day is forever etched in my mind when, as a still somewhat bewildered freshman, I wondered how this could happen and feared that the tragedy could repeat itself somewhere else. I watched a History Channel special on Vietnam recently, and that assembly on the Steubie campus immediately came to mind as the documentary chronicled campus unrest and 2-S deferments from the draft. Such an unsettled backdrop for college. What a bitter irony that high school students have since had to face this same unspeakable horror.
Susan (Zackey ’73) Starr
English

When I was doing bookings, the program was just starting in 1972-73 and Muddy Waters was a guest performer.
Linda Smith ’74
English/Education Major

Of the names mentioned, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was the only one whose visit I actually witnessed. Because of the University, I had the opportunity to see her twice. In ’76, the bicentennial year, I joined Karen Sefcik of Admissions to staff the University booth at the International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia where Mother Teresa was one of the speakers.
Fr. Gerald King, TOR
Campus Minister, 1974-1982

If I remember correctly, both Second Chapter of Acts and Lamb performed at different times at Franciscan University of Steubenville. For me, the most memorable was working with Amy Grant at the 1982 Youth Conference.
Emil Jon Schnellbacher ’85
History

The guest I loved was Amy Grant. She was a gem and she still is. My other favorite guest was Rose Totino from Totino's Pizza. She was a very nice lady and very generous to the University.
Pete Desnoyers ’85
Psychology

Dr. James Dobson spoke at our commencement exercises in 1988. To the dismay of many, he spoke about marriage and divorce. Hitting the topic head on, he explained that without Christ at the center of your marriage, you would very likely end up as one of the 50 percent of U.S. couples who end up divorced. He made a lasting impression on me, especially since I had gotten married just three weeks earlier!
John Recznik ’88
Elementary Education

The first person to come to mind is Thomas Howard. The first time he spoke on campus, some time before he became a trustee, he told the story of his conversion to Catholicism. As he spoke of entering the Church, he wept. As a cradle Catholic, I loved my faith, but I had never wept for love of it and this made me so aware of what a precious gift it is to be a Catholic.
Judith Pocivanik Koveleskie ’89
MA Theology

One of the great visitors to me was the musician Michael Card. His concert turned into a big prayer/praise and worship meeting. I'll always remember him playing all evening until he ran out of songs. Thanks to the kindness of Father John Osterhaus, I got to meet Michael and his band at the friary after the show when they were invited in for a late dinner/snack. I know from the conversation how impressed he was with the whole evening, and how open to Catholicism he was becoming. An awesome evening of prayer.
James “Jaime” Brunault ’89
English

Tom Monaghan, owner of Domino’s Pizza and the Detroit Tigers. Great humble Catholic leader. I will always remember the day I saw him speak to students before a University board meeting.
John Moran
Medical Technology ’92

Alan Keyes is the speaker who had the biggest impact on me. He spoke at our graduation, and I remember distinctly his discussion about the “real world.” Basically, he reminded us that though many people said we would be heading out into the real world upon graduation, the real world is God’s spiritual kingdom, and it is not to be found in its fullness in the “real world” as it is popularly understood. I remember his words had a big impact upon me as I adjusted from the spiritually-supportive environment of FUS to life in the work-a-day world with its secular concerns and often messy politics. I was reminded to focus on God, to rely upon him all the more in the midst of the daily grind and, over time, I have begun to find him in that daily grind. Now those words of Alan Keyes still resound in my ears, and I try to convey the same message to my students: This physical world, with all of its wonders, stresses, and joys, is not the end and by living in the “real world” of religious and spiritual truth, we are empowered to transform this world little by little. As C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and earth gets thrown in. Aim at earth and get neither.”
Joe Holbrook ’96
Theology

By far, the two visitors I most remember were Cardinal Schönborn and Rich Mullins. Rich performed in the field house barefoot, and he was great!
Connie (Cleveland MA ’97) Lenneman
MA Theology

Alan Keyes spoke at a packed chapel service at Franciscan when I was a student. One point he made has remained with me, and I think of it often. He said we must always remember, especially when things get difficult, that Christ has already won the victory. He said we cannot despair when we watch the news, listen to politicians, or feel persecuted or tormented by the political scene. His words have been in my mind recently when thinking about the HHS mandate: We may be fighting a battle now, but we can rest assured that Christ has already won the victory.
Father Pablo Migone ’05
History

When I was a student at the University, I had the privilege of hearing Robert P. George speak twice: once at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh with my bioethics class and once at the University for a bioethics conference. Both his books and his lectures have greatly influenced my life by inspiring me to be an educated thinker and follower of Jesus Christ to combat the increasingly secular culture and its misguided policies and laws, especially in the area of health care.
Alberto Doria ’09
Philosophy/Theology

Diane Brown of Clearwater, Florida, a member of Franciscan’s board of trustees, spoke during the opening night of the Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians Conference. I had worked in the Christian Outreach Office as a registration and SWOP worker, so I knew what a big deal it was for her to be speaking, and I was amazed at God’s providence! I was determined to meet this woman who lived so close to my home in Tampa. In fact, several times I had called Our Lady of Divine Providence House of Prayer, where she serves as president of the board of directors, to speak to her. She was a true woman of God, “after his own heart.” She told the crowd about how God has given a vision to all of us, and if we don’t know what it is we need to ask him for it. She said we need to stay mirthful and hopeful while putting a radical trust in God. Her speech zeroed into my heart that I needed to be affirmed and changed. I wanted to keep the faith I had had when I came to Franciscan the fall before. By summer, I felt beaten, worn, bone weary, and little unholy. I struggled in academics more than ever because of my learning disabilities. Though I knew I belonged at Franciscan, I was in need of some “TLC” from my Great Redeemer. Bringing Diane Brown to Steubenville was very caring for sure. As the night came to an end, I found myself in line waiting to pray with her. When we met, there were no trumpets or host announcing her presence. There was God and a few strangers. Diane helped me with my tuition my first semester. She was the instrument God used to open opportunities for me. Without her generosity and trust in God that I was a worthy recipient, I would not have attended Franciscan. Today, I have a BA in theology that I use on a daily basis to serve others and grow in my faith. Diane is a mentor to me, and God has also used Diane in the life of my mom. God, in his glory, has called my mother to discern being a Marian servant at the House of Prayer in Clearwater. The Marian servants and the House of Prayer are just two ways that Diane’s radical trust in God's vision has reached so many. God only knows the numerous people this incredible woman has helped! Thank you, Diane Brown.
Jeanine Baker ’10
Theology

Matt Maher (Catholic singer/songwriter) came to campus my freshman and senior years. He is an incredible performer as well as an incredible man of God. During his concert my freshman year, there was a break in the action and the Eucharist was exposed. The fieldhouse was full of silent adorers who came for a concert, but instead were led in worship. He’s a Catholic artist who aims not to bring recognition to himself, but to the Lord. This moment had a huge impact on me. Even in the world of entertainment, there are men and women standing up for the truth. It’s led me to believe that the truth must be proclaimed in all capacities—wherever we’re called, with whatever we’re given. We come to the Gospel in our own, unique way, leaving us with the task of coming up with even more unique ways to bring the Gospel.
Mary Manion ’11
Social Work

Although there are many great speakers, preachers, and musicians who come to Franciscan, the one who was most meaningful to me was Cardinal Raymond Burke at the 2011 Baccalaureate Mass. Go back 10 years to my freshman year in high school, and I faced much adversity due to family events and circumstances. I no longer knew who or what to believe in, and my family had fallen away from the Church many years prior. I needed something good to believe in to accept the struggle in my life but thought God was not there to help. That year, I was invited to attend the Mass at a youth retreat and decided to take a chance and try out church. It was at that retreat where the then-bishop of La Crosse, Bishop Raymond Burke, helped me to realize God’s love, mercy, and compassion. I was in awe of the true existence of God, and I decided then and there to become a devout Catholic. I was determined to start anew in life with a faith that could overcome any adversity or hardship. Because of Bishop Burke’s homily, my life was forever changed. I can only imagine where I would be if I had not heard that homily or gone to that Mass. I would not have gone to Steubenville North a few months later where I met my future husband. And I certainly would not have attended Franciscan University. I like to believe it was providence that Cardinal Burke was the homilist to celebrate the end of my formal Catholic education. He brought me to know Christ and now has sent me forth to witness and proclaim Christ to the world. I will be forever grateful.
Julie (Rohrman) Randall ’11
Accounting and Finance

I think Andreas Widmer (Bl. Pope John Paul II's bodyguard) had a great impact on my life. He was part of the Distinguished Speaker Series in the fall of 2011. I was so impressed with his book, The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard, that I got a publisher in my home country, India, to republish it. It’s a great book and a must read for college students. His talk also inspired me to develop a small non-profit module to respond to and evangelize the faith in my home archdiocese of Bombay, India.
Benwen Lopez ’12
Communication Arts

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